Fayetteville, Ga. (January 9, 2014) – Winter is the season for blustery storms, power outages and a rise in carbon monoxide poisonings. According to Kevin Cleary, M.D., medical director of emergency services at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, the increased use of devices to heat homes or keep warm can pose as a threat.
Common devices that have been involved in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are wood-burning stoves, portable generators, furnaces, fuel-burning space heaters, charcoal grills, water heaters, fireplaces and cooking ranges.
Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 400 people and sends an additional 20,000 to emergency rooms nationwide each year.
Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, dull headache, shortness of breath, blurred vision, confusion, weakness, and loss of consciousness. If you are brought to the Emergency room for evaluation, some questions that may be asked are: 1. Possible sources of carbon monoxide exposure 2. Any loss of consciousness 3. Smoking habits 4. Signs or symptoms, and when they started 5. Mental impairment 6. Medical conditions including pregnancy.
Treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning includes therapy with 100% oxygen by mask. High pressure oxygen is given to patients with very toxic levels of CO and abnormalities of the heart or nervous system, pregnant women and children with confusion. CO is usually measured by drawing an arterial blood sample and directly measuring the CO level. Pulse CO-oximetry units are available, which can screen for CO toxicity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests these tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
• Never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.
• Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
• Never run a motor vehicle, generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine outside an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can vent into an enclosed area.
• Never run a generator, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open, unless the equipment is professionally installed and vented. Keep vents and flues free of debris, especially if winds are high. Flying debris can block ventilation lines.
• Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent or camper.
• If conditions are too hot or too cold, seek shelter with friends or at a community shelter.
• If CO poisoning is suspected, consult a healthcare professional right away.